Looking for a 5-star resort that’s perfect for families? One mum reviews her favourite go-to destination.
Some holiday types demand exploration but others, primarily beach ones, only truly reveal their charms when coupled with familiarity and the sense of returning home. What makes a beach holiday so utterly escapist is the removal of the requirement to think; the more we can switch off and zone out, the more we can relax. It is only with motherhood and the stresses of adult life that I now truly get my parents’ yearning to repeat the same beach holiday year after year. The relaxation lies within the repetition. Hence why I found myself, 43 years after its opening, 36 years after my parents first visited, 26 years since I first visited and 1 year since a multi-million-dollar overhaul, back at (what to me has always been the most iconic, luxurious beach resort I know) Le Saint Geran in Mauritius.
Having sampled more convenient South-East Asian beach offerings, ten days back at Le Saint Geran convinced me that this hotel (taking the 9-hour flight into consideration), usurps contenders and provides what has to be the ultimate in family beach holidays. Mauritius itself has seen something of a surge in tourism in the last two decades (you can even now fly direct from Hong Kong with Air Mauritius) but Le Saint Geran has retained its place amongst the truly astounding resorts. The secret of its success lies in the details and subtle nuances that make each day laze its way into a perfect cacophony of relaxation, beauty and treasured family moments. Its perfection is thus best understood, through a journey into a typical, uneventful but oh so ideal day there.
Our room lined up along the ground floor of the Lagoon side of the resort. The hotel’s unrivalled headland spot on the East coast gives it the luxury of water on both sides. Beachfront Rooms line up along the main Indian Ocean coastline, but lurking around the rear are the Lagoon rooms with access to their own stretch of beach and sheltered, still lagoon waters. Our room itself was spacious, slick and so utterly design-centric it made me cry a little to sully it with a toddler’s mess. But toddlers reign supreme and our room was expertly kitted out with a cot, changing table, nappy bin, kid’s towels and toiletries and a cuddly toy. While a large chunk of the rooms are now interconnecting or suites with sprawling living spaces to cater for larger families, even the entry-level rooms surround you with space (despite our ankle grazing companions). Our wardrobe/en-suite was enormous, with multiple spaces to unpack, a giant rain shower, deep bathtub, wonderfully Mama-friendly vanity area and the added benefit of being closed off from the room so we could take our time getting ready after kiddie bedtime. And if you plump for a suite you’re even more spoilt for space, with a separate living area, second bathroom and even more wardrobe space.
Now to continue my day; most mornings I snuck out early to make the most of the resort’s gym and complimentary classes. The inner corridor of the hotel snakes along a beautiful enclosed palm-fringed lake area, allowing for fish feeding and bird spotting as you walk anywhere within. A lazy breakfast at the main Le Terrasse restaurant followed, with overflowing buffet options, Tripp Trapp highchairs and a breath-taking view over the sea. Then an amble along the beachfront path to choose our sun-loungers for the day, digging our toes into perfect white sand, swinging lazily from hammocks and occasionally dallying with sandcastles and sea shell searching excursions along the deserted curve of the resort’s headland sandspit.
Kids under 5 eat free from a fantastically diverse kids’ menu that also caters for weaning babies and allergies. Healthier grilled options sit alongside firm kiddie-favourites and can be served anywhere in the resort. Without exception, every day we opted for lunch at the poolside La Pointe restaurant where the staff knew our son by name and spoilt him rotten. Neighbouring the main (and kid dominated) pool down the end of the headland, this was where we spent most of our day, choosing a beach spot close enough to roll into the pool.
Our son still naps after lunch so the accompanying sun loungers off our veranda were much welcomed, ensuring we could continue our relaxation while he slept. Often, I left my husband in charge and slinked away to the spa pool, probably my enduring favourite spot in the whole hotel, enhanced by its kid-free status and an oft-Instagrammed perfect view. Afternoons followed much of the same lazy pace. Our son was under 3, so we didn’t leave him in the kids club alone but played in its incredible space daily; with multiple zones both indoor and outdoor for different aged tots, dining options and more toys than my son knew what to do with, it really was the best kids club I have ever seen. Mini-golf, watersports, pedalos, bicycles, table tennis, tennis and other activities occasionally tempted us towards a little more afternoon exertion (but only partially). Sundowner cocktails by the beach club with an accompanying DJ quickly wound us back down into evening mode.
By night, we relied on the hotel’s expert squad of babysitters and sampled our way around the dining options. Half-board packages indulge you in a daily feast at the main buffet. Gone are naff buffet connotations and instead you are simply spoilt with an overwhelmingly delectable range of global cuisines, cooked fresh to order. Packages also cover some dishes at the other restaurants and are definitely worth a foray. Japanese Tapasake restaurant, which is raised on stilts above the lapping lagoon, tantalised with its mixed Asian fare and sushi and there’s Prime, a swish steakhouse, which gave a bit more of a cosmopolitan feeling to our evenings. Most nights ended at the hotel bar, sipping wine and enjoying either the house band or live Creole entertainment.
So, there you have it. A review in a day. A day that really does capture them all, never monotonous or boring, but each day enhancing our sense of escape. Le Saint Geran ticks all the boxes you would expect from a 5 star luxury resort hotel but it is in the indescribable; the moments it creates, the vistas it provides, the sense of real indulgence and magnificence it surrounds you with, that will have you doing away with any other beach hotel and returning here year after year (as many others faithfully do). What makes this hotel truly exceptional are the details. They were always there but now they have been reimagined, re-established and, best of all, redesigned with families in mind.
Le Saint Gerna, Pointe de Flacq, Poste de Flacq 41518, Mauritius, www.oneandonlyresorts.com
All images courtesy of Le Saint Gerna.